Category Archives: Local News

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Grants & Summer Programming for SAPARS

We are pleased to announce that we have received the following grants to support our work.

Maine Women’s Fund has provided funding to support “Bridging the Gap.” During the school year, students in high schools (and some middle schools) can obtain services from a SAPARS advocate through our school based drop in programs. This program allows students to meet with an advocate during the school day at the school, thus minimizing barriers for students to access services. The “Bridging the Gap” project is designed to continue that access to SAPARS services by establishing drop in programs in the communities during the summer months. Those drop in sites will be at various locations and various times, and will allow for students to seek or continue to access support services throughout the summer. For more information, see the “Summer Services” section of this newsletter.

The Betterment Fund has awarded a three year grant to SAPARS to help support our Rural Educator/Advocate who will be working in the areas of Franklin County outside of the greater Farmington area. The Rural Educator/Advocate will be providing prevention education programming in the schools, and will also be establishing service sites in communities of western and northern Franklin County so that residents of those communities will have better access to sexual assault services without having to travel to our office in Farmington.

The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault has awarded 3 Rape Prevention Education “mini grants” to SAPARS. One of the grants will fund training for Resident Assistants at Central Maine Community College (in Auburn) to support ongoing prevention programming with their students.  Our College Advocate, Sabrina Yocono, will train the RA’s and provide them with materials and support do continue doing prevention education using materials from the Backbone Zone curriculum. Trainings will also be offered to faculty/staff and non-residential students.

The second grant will fund a project working with Upward Bound Students at UMF over the summer. This project will provide prevention education training to the Bridge student leaders of Upward Bound, using the scenario based prevention training of the University of Maine system. Those Bridge students will then provide the training to the other Upward Bound students throughout the summer months. At the end of the training, the Upward Bound participants (including the Bridge students) will develop a project of their choosing to reflect the information they have received and which can be shared with the larger campus community.

The third project is a media literacy project occurring in Androscoggin and Oxford Counties which will engage youth age 13+ in developing and using critical thinking skills when presented with images and stories through media outlets. Four movies will be viewed, followed by facilitated discussions about the themes in the movies. Those themes include healthy relationships, consent and sexual assault; sexual harassment; internet safety and online bullying; and gender roles as they relate to sexual violence. Participants will then help create youth focused/issue focused boards on our social media sites (Pinterest, Tumblr) and mini PSA’s that can be broadcast via local radio stations. This program will be available at Lewiston High School, Lisbon High School, Oak Hill High School, the Auburn Library and through the Norway Library.

Summer Programming:

With schools out for the summer, SAPARS is providing a wide range of services for youth during the summer months. Our goal is to continue our education efforts with youth and to provide greater access to our support services during the summer months. Below is a list of activities/service sites for youth.

Media Literacy Project:

The media literacy project (described above) will be held at  Lisbon High School (beginning 6/22), Lewiston High School (beginning 6/30), Oak Hill High School (beginning 6/24), the Auburn Library Teen Center (beginning 7/2), and through the Norway Library and New Beginnings. For specific dates and times for programming through the Norway location, please call (207) 743-9777.  For dates and times in Androscoggin County, call (207) 784-5272.

Drop In Service Sites:

For the summer months, we will have an Advocate at various locations, accessible to young people so that they can access crisis and support services close to home.

In Androscoggin County, drop in programs will be available at Lewiston High school, Lisbon High School, Oak Hill High School, Auburn Library Teen Center, New Beginnings, and Poland High School. For dates and times, call (207) 784-5272. Support groups will continue at both locations of Beckett House.

Drop in sites in Oxford County will be at the Norway Memorial Library, Common Ground Counseling in Fryeburg, the Peru Community Building and the Rumford college campus. For more information, call (207) 743-9777.

Drop in sites in Franklin County will be at the libraries in Rangeley and Phillips, and at the Jay Town Office. Other possible sites are under development. For more information, call (207) 778-9522.

Final Yard Sale Fundraiser!

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Mark your calendars for July 10th and 11th, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM for our last annual yard sale in Oxford County!

The yard sale has been a successful fundraiser for the past several years. However, this summer will be our FINAL one, because we will be changing the space around to add a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) in the South Paris office!

We are accepting items for this yard sale. If you wish to donate items, please bring them to 1 East Main St., South Paris. We accept household items, books, games, knick knacks, clothing in good condition, etc., but please no electronics or appliances.

For more information, call (207) 743-9777.

Maine elders are victims of abuse, too. Here are 5 ways you can help, via Bangor Daily News – Maine Focus:

It’s hard to miss headlines about Maine’s aging population and what it means for the future of our state. What we don’t hear about as often is the domestic and sexual violence that many of Maine’s older residents experience.

The research is difficult to come by because, whereas elder abuse is already significantly underreported, domestic and sexual violence experienced by older adults is even more so. We do, however, know that about 90 percent of elder abuse is perpetrated by a family member of the victim — with adult children and spouses being the most frequent offenders.

We also know that different types of abuse often overlap with one another. For instance, when someone is experiencing financial exploitation, they may also be suffering from the perpetration of other abuse. Older adults who suffer from abuse are three times more likely to die within the next decade than adults of the same age who are not being mistreated.

This outcome isn’t inevitable. When we raise awareness of issues like elder abuse, it can be difficult to figure out what to do next. But Mainers are known for helping one another when help is needed, and there are steps we can all take to prevent elder abuse in our communities.

  • Check on your neighbors. It can be easy to say to yourself, “That seems funny, but it’s none of my business.” But when it comes to suspected abuse, it is on all of us to respond. Many victims want help, but they may not know how to get it or what might be available to them. Many are just waiting to be asked. Find a time that is private and safe, and ask questions like, “How have you been lately?” or “Are you doing okay?” Listen for coded disclosures and look for red flags because like many other victims of abuse, older adults may not come out and say they are being abused.
  • Have patience. Many victims of domestic and sexual violence are reluctant to disclose their experience of abuse, even when they are asked. For elders this may be even more true. It can be very difficult to admit that one’s child, spouse or caregiver is causing one harm. Older victims of violence may have been experiencing the abuse for many years, or even decades. Even if that person isn’t ready to disclose what is happening, it is important for them to know that someone cares about their welfare and is there to support them.
  • Question your assumptions. We often don’t associate the image of an older adult with domestic or sexual violence. We may think that these types of crimes only happen to younger people, or we have a hard time picturing a long-time marriage as anything but picturesque and happy. It is important that we acknowledge that domestic and sexual violence occurs across the lifespan and that older adults can indeed experience — and perpetrate — these crimes.
  • Pick up the phone. With several different 1-800 numbers floating around, it can be hard to figure out the right organization or agency to call when help is needed. Members of the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention have agreed that the important thing is to reach out; if you dial one of these organizations and they’re not the right folks to call, you will be referred to the people who can help. Maine’s domestic violence resource centers and sexual assault support centers are available 24/7 for people with questions about domestic and sexual violence — whether you yourself need help or you are worried for someone you care about. You can call the domestic violence helpline at 1-866-834-4357 and/or the sexual assault crisis and support line at 1-800-871-7741. Even if you’re not sure what you’re seeing or experiencing is abuse, it never hurts to pick up the phone and talk with someone.
  • Know the resources. There are many organizations working together in Maine to end elder abuse. Become familiar with what they do and how they might be able to help. Maine’s domestic violence resource centers and sexual assault support centers have an array of services beyond their hotlines that can be helpful, and they can connect callers with other community resources as well.

Maine’s aging population is an important part of our state’s future, and their needs demand significant attention. Like all Mainers, elders deserve to live safe lives, free from abuse, violence and coercion.  Together we can make sure that some of our most vulnerable citizens get the care and protection they deserve, but it will take a community to get there.

Relay for Relief!

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We want to thank Sarah Brouwer and Alana Chipman for organizing and holding the Relay for Relief event at Hebron Academy (Oxford County, Maine) this spring. They raised almost $1000 for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services! Relay for Relief was a 12 hour walk-a thon, inspired by the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The students involved created teams of 5-8 members and took the challenge of walking the track all night, with members of each teams taking turns. In the gym, students played basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, and Frisbee while other team members were on the track. There was plenty of dancing and video games during the evening as well. It is wonderful to see students taking action to make change for a better tomorrow in their community!

Meet our new Rural Educator/Advocate, Jackie!

JackieJackie Kandler joined the SAPARS staff in Franklin County as the Rural Educator/Advocate on June 1, 2015. She will be providing school-based education and advocacy services in the rural parts of Franklin County.
Jackie recently graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) with a Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health Education, and minors in Nutrition Education and Child and Adolescent Health. She completed her Internship at Western Maine Community Action, as the first Wellness Coach Intern where she focused on worksite wellness.

Originally from Massachusetts, Jackie just permanently moved to Maine. “I am very excited to be a part of the SAPARS team in Franklin County, and it gives me the chance to get to know the area even more!”

Welcome, Jackie!

Students March for Violence Free Communities, via The Daily Bulldog:

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FARMINGTON – For the previous 16 years, students and supporters have marched along Main Street to raise awareness for sexual and domestic violence.

This year was no exception, with students gathering outside the University of Maine at Farmington Olsen Student Center on South Street and marching through the downtown. A Speak Out even followed the march, after students returned to the student center’s North Dining Hall.

The event is held in conjunction with the end of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

 

 

(Thank you to everyone who participated, and to the UMF Campus Violence Prevention Coalition for your help in the planning process!)

17th annual March for Violence-Free Communities!

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For the previous 16 years, we have gathered at the gazebo in downtown Farmington, then marched to the Speak Out at the Old South Church. This year, on Wednesday, April 29th, at 5:30 PM, we will be beginning and ending at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF)! Participants will gather outside of the Student Center on South Street, and the Speak Out will take place in the North Dining Hall inside of the Student Center.

If desired, all participants will have the opportunity to speak out and share their thoughts and feelings on the issues surrounding all forms of violence.

There is a new coalition at UMF called the Campus Violence Prevention Coalition (CVPC). This Coalition is composed of students, faculty, and staff, and their mission is to promote a safe campus by reducing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Those involved with CVPC are excited to help plan, and bring the March to their school.

Light refreshments will be served.

Keynote speaker: TBA

Non-consensual pornography increasingly an issue that must be addressed, via the SunJournal:

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(Article 3 of 4 for Sexual Assault Awareness Month)

In this world, our private information is less private than ever. With the click of a button, private images can be posted for millions of people to see. In an era of digital communication, Maine’s sexual assault support centers are seeing that non-consensual pornography is increasingly an issue for the clients we serve.

A bill before the Maine Legislature — LD 679 —  would criminalize non-consensual pornography, commonly known as revenge porn. The bill, which has dozens of co-sponsors, would make the intentional distribution of explicit material without permission illegal if the subject is identifiable. The bill would make such distribution a Class D crime, a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

To some, that may seem like a small price for offenders who have sought to ruin the lives of their victims.

It is difficult to quantify the impact of non-consensual pornography. However, we know that victims of this behavior face significant and specific harm, including harm to relationships with friends, family, and co-workers; and harm to future educational and professional prospects.

Sexual assault advocates across the state work with victims of revenge porn each year. After her name and intimate photos of her were posted on several websites by an ex-boyfriend, one Maine victim has moved out of the community where she has lived all of her life, is in the process of changing her name, has developed severe anxiety and agoraphobia, feels humiliated and ashamed, and has told the advocate she is working with, “I will never be in a relationship ever again.”

Unfortunately for some victims, the impact does not end there. Due to the public nature of non-consensual pornography, victims often receive threats of additional sexual violence, stalking and harassment. This is especially significant, given that a recent study of victims demonstrates that, along with distributed images, 59 percent had their full name posted, 26 percent had their email address posted, 16 percent had their physical home address posted, and 14 percent had their work address posted.

Sometimes, in addition to the images, further information is shared, including the names of siblings and parents, bank account information, passwords and links to social media accounts.

In another Maine case, the link to the website where a victim’s photos were posted (without her consent) was sent to organizations where she was applying for internships — all from her email account, which had been hacked.

People who choose to take photos of themselves often do so with the understanding and firm belief that the photos will never be shared outside of their consensual relationship. Sometimes, those relationships change and the photos are then distributed, or a threat to distribute them is made. In other circumstances, the photos are taken under duress or via coercion.

And yet, victims are often blamed for an offender’s actions. Instead of asking, “What would make someone do that to someone else?” victims are generally asked, “Why did you send him that photo in the first place? What were you thinking?”

However, blaming the victim means we refuse to hold the real party responsible — the offender. Just like other forms of sexual violence, preventing revenge porn includes holding offenders accountable. Criminalizing revenge porn will help mitigate its consequences.

With all types of sexual activity, consent must be free, willing and ongoing. The same standard must be applied with regard to the disclosure of private images. The law recognizes that a customer’s consent to giving his credit card to a waiter to run a tab is not consent for that waiter to use the information on a personal shopping spree.

Permitting someone use of information in one context does not — and should not — mean consent in other contexts.

Cara Courchesne, a Lewiston native, is the communications director at the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.